Thursday, 26 April, 2018

Czech president has big lead in early results

Presidential elections tests the power Euro scepticism and anti-immigrant sentiment in the Czech Republic Czech president faces 8 challengers in polls
Kenny Thornton | 13 January, 2018, 18:08

Incumbent Milos Zeman has won the most votes but not enough to win the first round of the Czech presidential election. A 68-year-old chemistry professor and former chief of the academy of science, Dr Drahos pledges to improve ties with the European Union and return "dignity" to the presidential post - a jab against Mr Zeman, a chain smoker who had made headlines by swearing in public and haranguing journalists. His nearest rival is Jiri Drahos, a chemist and the former head of the Czech Academy of Sciences, with 25 percent - voting began on Friday and the second round of voting will be held January 26-27.

Zeman is expected to win the first round of elections on Friday and Saturday. Bare-breasted, she jumped in front of him with the words "Putin's slut" painted on her chest.

The incident may wind up helping the frail president by provoking sympathy for him, as Saturday's newspapers blared headlines like, "Attack on Zeman" and "A scandalous incident".

The topless activist from Ukraine's Femen group was overpowered by bodyguards and then arrested by police.

Last October, during a press conference, Milos Zeman took to new levels his open hostility towards journalists by holding a replica of an assault rifle with the inscription: "Towards journalists".

Zeman and Babis are among the most popular politicians in the country of 10.6 million that is largely eurosceptic and rejects accepting migrants from the Middle East and Africa.

Drahos could not be more different.

Jiri Drahos addresses the media after the announcement of the preliminary results of the presidential elections
Jiri Drahos addresses the media after the announcement of the preliminary results of the presidential elections

Czechs go to the polls this weekend in the first round of a presidential election.

After casting his ballot in Prague, Lubos Seidl said the election boiled down to "a clash between the people who think the old way and those who think the new way".

Among the leading candidates, Zeman has been the most outspoken on migration, linking Muslim immigration to security threats.

"The polarisation of society has deepened in the past months", Saradin said.

For his supporters, Zeman is a frank man, master of ingeniously politically incorrect comments: an old-school politician, heavy smoker and heavy drinker, a president who talks about the fears and hopes of the average Czech.

Another presidential candidate, former prime minister Mirek Topolanek, said Babis's support for Zeman is related to the fact that Zeman announced on Wednesday that he would want Babis to present signatures of a majority of MPs supporting his next government before he would appoint him prime minister again.

The outcome may influence Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis's chances of finally forming a cabinet as his first attempt to rule in a minority administration is likely to be rejected by parliament next week. Former diplomat Pavel Fischer was third with 8.8%.

Switzerland rules lobsters must be stunned before they are boiled
The practice of transporting live crustaceans, including lobsters, on ice or in ice water is also prohibited under the new rules. This legislation in Switzerland has sparked a debate on whether invertebrates including crustaceans can feel and sense pain.

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